CORTINA D’AMPEZZO, Italy — Canada moved to a 6-0 won/loss record with a 9-6 victory over England at the 2009 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship.
Sean Grassie of Winnipeg and Allison Nimik of Calgary scored three-enders three times in the first four ends to leap into a 9-1 lead.
England’s John Sharp and Jane Clark finally replied with a deuce in the fifth, a steal of two in the sixth, followed by yet another steal of one in the seventh.
The Canadians then ran their opponents out of stones in the eighth end.
“We got off to a great start,” said Grassie.
“But then (coach) Jack gave us an un-motivational speech,” joked Nimik.
Jack Grassie is the team coach and Sean’s father, and he wasn’t pleased with England’s first deuce, nor the next one.
“This ice is very difficult to hit on,” said the elder Grassie.
“It’s not like the ice we’ve seen in Canada. Anything soft is just gonna break a ton, anything up weight won’t move.”
“It’s like a magnet to the four-foot,” added Nimik.
Grassie was surprised to realize that Canada’s Red Group could be nicknamed the Commonwealth Group, as it features Canada, England, Scotland, Australia and new Zealand.
The Canadians conclude the round robin with two games on Thursday, against the Aussies and the Kiwis.
“I think our group is really tough,” said Grassie.
“Finland won the silver last year, and we knew Scotland would be tough. New Zealand, you don’t think of them as a curling power, but they’re playing well. And the Italians played well against us.
“But I didn’t realize that Commonwealth thing. That’s kind of cool.”
World Curling Federation staff member Keith Wendorf, who serves as the WCF Director of Competitions, explained that there were two levels of protocol in selecting the pools.
“We used last year’s team rankings, following the Worlds in Vierumaki, and there’s also the system of slotting teams into pools as defined by our rulebook,” said Wendorf.
“It’s quite interesting with all the Commonwealth teams in one pool, that it worked out that way.”
In other games, Finland won a huge encounter over New Zealand by an 9-8 count. The Finns are in second place behind Canada at 5-1, while the Kiwis dropped to 4-2. Scotland were 8-5 winners over hosts Italy, and sit at 4-1.
Russia is 3-2, Italy is 2-5, Australia is 1-4, England is now 1-6 and Bulgaria is 0-5.
In Blue Group action, Austria defeated Wales 5-2 to improve to a 3-3, tied with Latvia who lost 10-5 to defending champions Switzerland. The Swiss are at 6-0 ahead of Poland (5-1) and the Czech Republic (4-2).
In the Green Group, China moved to 6-1 with a 10-6 win over the United States and a 9-5 decision over Estonia. Sweden upended Hungary 8-4 to improve to 4-2, while the Hungarians dropped to 5-2. Denmark follows Sweden with a 3-2 record.
The semifinals are scheduled for Friday April 24 and the gold and bronze medal finals on Saturday, April 25.
The Olympic Ice Stadium, located in this ski resort area in northeast Italy, has been refurbished since hosting the 1956 Olympic Winter Games.
The venue will also play host to the 2010 Capital One World Men’s Curling Championship, less than one month after next year’s Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Live scoring and other event information is available at: wmdcc2009.it with results mirrored at the WCF Results website at: results.worldcurling.org
Mixed Doubles features two players per team as opposed to traditional four-person curling teams. Each game consists of eight ends with variations from the usual discipline.
Each team delivers five stones per end with one player delivering the first and fifth stones and the other team member throwing the stones in between.
Prior to the start of each end, one team shall instruct the game umpire to place their team’s stationary stone and the opposing team’s stationary stone either as a guard outside the house bisecting the centre line or on the back half of the button. The positioned stones cannot be removed until the fourth stone.
Sweeping is allowed but with just two players that means either the thrower will sweep their own stone or the other team member will leave the house to sweep.
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